web analytics

When will we learn?

Written By: - Date published: 11:35 pm, June 15th, 2011 - 8 comments
Categories: Mining, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Fascinating programme on TV One  Sunday this week; see it here and here – contrasting the Australian approach to mining with the disaster at Pike River. Outside the question of whether there were any survivors, the key difference was the existence of union safety check inspectors. The Australians use them, we don’t. They can shut the mine down if there is a safety issue. Not here. The reason – anti-worker ideology.

The difference has a history. The Health and Safety in Employment Act introduced in 1992 removed the Labour Department check inspectors and made the use of worker safety representatives an option not a requirement. Here’s an extract from Helen Clark’s speech at the time of the introduction of the law under a National government:

In a speech on 2 June the Minister (Bill Birch) said that the Bill and the Employment Contracts Act “should not be regarded as separate, unrelated pieces of legislation. Indeed, they knit together so well that I dare say they may well be regarded as a world leader in industrial law.” That will hardly increase any limited confidence in the Bill that workers might have had. In that speech the Minister went on to say: “Underlying all our reforms is the premise that the Government’s role is to enable management to take full responsibility for work-places so they can be run in the best and most appropriate manner. That is what the health and safety Bill sets out to do and what the Employment Contracts Act is achieving.” Frankly, to the Labour Opposition that statement strongly implies that the Minister considers the contribution that employees could make to better health and safety as being quite worthless. The Bill has no role for workers, and that is the Opposition’s primary criticism of it.

The Mining provisions were reviewed again in 2006. After receiving submissions, the Labour Department produced a report in September 2008. The report noted:

Submitters were polarised on employee participation, and whether to regulate for check inspectors. Worker perspective submitters see check inspectors as a small change and the most effective solution for improving safety in underground mining, whereas employer perspective submitters see check inspectors as overly prescriptive and inconsistent with the performance-based approach.

Then there was an election. The Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson, refused to consider worker check representatives, a decision that was welcomed by Solid Energy in 2009.

Then there was an explosion. Watch how the Aussies do it and judge for yourselves. If you were a worker where would you feel safer? Leaving it to management to as  Bill Birch said “take full responsibility” is not much use after the disaster has happened. After all, it is the workers who are down the mine, and miners have a long history of looking after each other.

8 comments on “When will we learn? ”

  1. ZeeBop 1

    Don’t suffer fools lightly.

    We don’t want world class in NZ, we want to be like China.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    It was made clear to me today that Australian mining engineers think that our attitude to safety systems and training in NZ mines is- in general (there are some exceptions) – a pathetic and foolhardy joke.

    Both Labour and National have had roles to play in this situation.

    • ZeeBop 2.1

      Desperate men do desperate things. NZ is desperate for a job and Key and his cohort
      are rubbing their hands in glee. People get paid when mines go up in smoke too you know.
      The truth is that when someone you know says something nasty about the unemployed,
      don’t argue sensibly with them, point out that everyone has to wait at the bus stop
      especially when the buses are running slow.
      That seeing better in others shows people how they can be. NZ is far too nastier a
      place, and its the Paul Henry types that keep the nasty pace up. And I rule the
      day I ever watched the morning breakfast when he was on. He might as well as
      caused the spark that day, for all the humanity he displaces in the off cuff way.

  3. tc 3

    Unions uphold not only safety but pay and other standards and its another one of the areas Oz contrast with us.
    They have strong unions, high membership rates which results in better pay and conditions…..unlike the outlook the nats are driving for here.
    The oz bloke on the Sunday show summed it up when he stated safety, or it’s lack of, was his major concern.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Time for us to become far more unionised again. Workers are stronger acting together and speaking with one voice. National wants workers cowed and weakened.

  4. Jenny 4

    Due to contracting out the modern New Zealand workplace is a very dangerous place. To deal with this reality, rather than give any autonomy to the workers, management stuff the place with safety gurus, who only leave their office to lecture the workers on safety.

    But, nod nod wink wink, behind this blame the worker culture, sub-contractors are stuck in a vicious cycle of undercutting and competition to get the contracts.

    The hidden message is work harder or don’t get the work.
    Under contract legislation a contractor can be charged penalties or replaced at a moments notice by the main employer for underperformance.
    For older workers or for workers trying to keep up, or the workforce of a contractor who undercut to much to get the work, this means taking short cuts.

    Despite the roll of injury and death the last thing New Zealand employers will ever allow is the workers to have a say in their own safety.

    The original check inspectors weren’t given their role. It had to be wrested from the employers after a lot of blood and death

  5. vto 5

    Agree 100%

  6. Jeff 6

    Spoken like someone wh has never been on a construction site!

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago